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UFW v. Windmill | Our safety laws’ limits | Amazon union busting

Wednesday, November 29, 2023




► From the Seattle Times — Workers sue WA mushroom farm, allege wrongful firings, labor violations — Farmworkers were fired from the Sunnyside-based mushroom producer Windmill Farms for trying to unionize, according to a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Yakima County Superior Court. The lawsuit, filed by six employees and labor union United Farm Workers of America, alleges Windmill violated labor and employment laws by interfering with their ability to organize through surveilling union supporters, starting an attendance policy that punished them for organizing and using production quotas to retaliate against them.

► From the Yakima H-R — Trabajadores, UFW demandan a granja de champiñones de Sunnyside por conflictos laborales

► From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail — Workers at Washington state mushroom farm say its Canadian owner has tried to prevent union organizing efforts

TODAY at The STAND Mushroom workers sue Windmill Farms over labor rights violations

► From Q13 — Parents demand transparency as Marysville School District says more budget cuts need to be made — Budget cuts are impacting students in Marysville, where the conversation has continued for months regarding the potential of larger classes, no sports and less staff. School board members held a meeting Tuesday night where parents had high hopes of having their questions answered and even help provide solutions. Instead, they were told they were not taking questions.




► From the Oregonian — Portland Public Schools teachers, school board approve new contract — Portland Public Schools teachers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify the deal to settle a strike that closed school for most of November. In an email to members, leaders of the teachers union said that 94.7% of members approved the proposed contract.




► From Crosscut — A Washington worker’s death reveals the limits of safety enforcement — Squeezed down deep inside a narrow ditch, Harold Felton barely had room to turn around as he reconnected a sewer pipe to the main line at a West Seattle home. Several days of winter rain had soaked and softened the muddy walls that rose over his 6-foot-2 frame. A motorized saw that Felton used shook the ground as he worked. Without sound and without warning, one wall of the trench gave way, instantly burying Felton under several hundred pounds of rock and earth. Washington saw 80 trauma-related workplace deaths last year, the highest number since 2010, according to state figures. The state’s Department of Labor & Industries bears responsibility for enforcing safety standards and investigating workplace fatalities. The agency imposed more than $14.7 million in fines last year for employer safety failures, injuries and other violations.

► From Crosscut — The workplace death that changed WA precedent (podcast)

► From Q13 — ‘It’s not going to be secure’; Concerns grow after another Echo Glen escape — As three escapees await additional legal action for escaping the Echo Glen facility for juveniles over the weekend. Two of the teens involved were being held for murder—that includes a 16-year-old who was tied to two separate deadly shootings in Renton last year.

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle lobbying firm Strategies 360 files for bankruptcy amid legal feud — The prominent Pacific Northwest lobbying and public affairs firm has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid a bitter legal dispute between estranged co-owners: CEO Ron Dotzauer and his former business partner, Eric Sorenson.




► From Reuters — FAA tightens aircraft certification oversight after Boeing MAX crashes — The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it had adopted a new aircraft certification policy requiring key flight control design changes to be considered “major” like the system involved in two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019. The FAA is still considering whether to certify two additional variants of the MAX – the smaller MAX 7 and larger MAX 10.




► From the AP — A conservative attack on government regulation reaches the Supreme Court — The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a challenge to the SEC’s ability to fight fraud, part of a broad attack on regulatory agencies led by conservative and business interests. The high court’s decision could have far-reaching effects on the SEC and other regulatory agencies, and it’s just one of several cases this term that could constrict federal regulators.

► From The Hill — Momentum builds for special commission to tackle $34T in U.S. debt — Members across Congress have been pressing for a fiscal commission aimed at exploring ways to reduce the nation’s debt, particularly as Washington feuds over how the government should be funded for most of next year. Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is skeptical:

“The history of these things is, you know, Republicans are big on the spending cuts, but then decide they want to let the billionaires get off the hook on revenue.”

► From HuffPost — Home Depot’s billionaire founder says he’ll fund Trump… even if he’s convicted — Bernie Marcus suggested he won’t let a conviction get in the way of his support for the Republican front-runner.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Another reason not to shop there.




► From the Guardian — ‘We can’t trust them’: Workers decry alleged union busting at Amazon air hub — The workers at the 882-acre KCVG air hub in Hebron, Kentucky, have been organizing “March on the Boss” actions at the Amazon facility in which staff confront managers en masse to “demand an end to union busting”, which they claim includes write-ups and other disciplinary actions against workers. Workers at the facility are calling for a starting pay of $30 an hour, free on-site childcare, double pay for flex (overtime), professional translation and union representation. Amazon has fought its employees’ organizing efforts by spending more than $14.2 million on union avoidance consultants in 2022.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Learn more about how you can support these workers.

► From the AP — GM says strike cost $1.1B, but it can absorb rising labor costs as it raises dividend — GM says pretax earnings took a $1.1 billion hit this year due to production lost during a six-week strike by autoworkers, but the company expects to absorb the costs of a new contract and is even raising its dividend.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Remember this the next time the bosses claim that paying family-supporting wages will bankrupt the company.

► From the Guardian — Legoland trying to deter ride techs’ bid to unionize, workers say — Ride technician engineers in California say union avoidance consultants brought in after filing for union election.

► From the Washington Post — Sports Illustrated’s use of AI infuriates a staff already in turmoil — Staffers were outraged about yet another embarrassment that they said undermined their journalism — this time using AI.




► From the LA Times — What day laborers are hired to do: the dangerous, the gross, the sometimes illegal — They were not what you’d call the usual day laborer gigs. No yard work. No installing doors. No laying down roof tiles on a hot summer day. There was the person who paid several workers to stand in line for concert tickets. The one who wanted to hire a few men to just sit around with him, drink and watch some porn. And then there was the company that contracted day laborers to clean a former brothel, complete with a stripper pole, used needles and the scent of dead body. These stories, recounted by laborers and organizers in Los Angeles County in recent days, don’t come close to the experience of four workers recently hired to dump trash bags picked up in Tarzana. First they were told the bags contained rocks. Then Halloween decorations. They quickly realized the heavy, squishy bags were filled with dismembered body parts.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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